Sunday, June 13, 2010

They Deserved What They Got

Whenever I read the story of Ahab and Naboth I can’t believe that anybody would put up with these kinds of actions. I mean how many of you would go up to your neighbor and tell them to sell you their garden just because it would be more convenient for you to gather fresh vegetables for your kitchen? Or how many of you would find people to lie about someone else to discredit them in the community so you could get their property without having to pay for it? That’s what Ahab and Jezebel did and they were brazen enough to think that they could get away with it.

Even when Elijah confronted Ahab and let him know that God wouldn’t stand for such actions it didn’t phase Ahab one bit. Apparently he didn’t believe that God could or would do what he said he’d do. Boy, was he wrong.

This time it seems as if those who deserved it got what they had coming to them. And we’re okay with that.

But what about us? Are we okay with God punishing us when we go against God’s will? How would we react if some prophet came to us and gave us the ultimatum that Elijah gave Ahab? Would we believe that God would follow through with his promise?

Something to ponder I think. We read the story of Jezebel and Ahab and we don’t believe that we could or would do anything near as bad as what they did. But are we any better than they were?

In Luke’s gospel another woman, one of not so stellar a reputation, comes in to the dining room where Jesus is seated waiting to have dinner with one of the more prominent Pharisees in town. I don’t know if she was already in the house or if she came in from the street when she found out Jesus was there. I guess it doesn’t really make any difference.

The fact is she came in where she was probably not very welcome. Can’t you just see the looks and the whispers as she came in and stood behind Jesus weeping? And then she stoops and wipes his feet that have been wet with her tears with her hair. Now the whispering is really going in earnest. Those who aren’t gossiping are thinking the same things others are saying. Why is he letting her do this? Why isn’t he stopping her? Doesn’t he know who she is? What kind of prophet is he?

Okay, so now we are filled with self-righteousness because we know that Jesus knows what everyone is saying and thinking and pretty soon he’s going to let them have it with both barrels. And we think, “Now they’re getting what they deserve.” Are we so pure? Are we really without sin?

Let’s take a look at ourselves. Let’s talk about the oil spill in the Gulf. Who’s responsible for the accident? Who’s responsible for the cleanup? Whose problem is it, British Petroleum’s, our Democratic government?

Sounds like the right answer doesn’t it? The news media would have us believe that all the blame is on BP’s shoulders. And others are blaming the Democratic government for not responding quickly enough. Or maybe it’s the Admiral who’s providing oversight of the whole mess down in the Gulf. Maybe it’s all a big conspiracy and it’s all these entities I named. The blame is all theirs. Right?

Let me ask you something. How many of us have a car or a pickup or a lawnmower or a motorcycle or a gas-powered string trimmer or something else that needs a petroleum product to operate? I’d wager that most of us have at least one of these and some of us have more than one. How many of us have air conditioners in our homes? Do any of us not have electricity in our homes or where we work?

We all have these luxuries. Of course we don’t think they’re luxuries we call them necessities. All of them use some form of power in order to make them useable for us. Most of them require some form of petroleum product or natural gas. How would our lives be different if we didn’t have gasoline or diesel or natural gas? We wouldn’t be able to hear ourselves think for all the whining if we didn’t have these things.

So, who’s responsible? It’s my belief that we are all responsible for the oil spill, the cleanup, the damage to the environment, and the lost jobs. We, and this includes me, believe that it’s our right to have all these conveniences. We couldn’t survive without them.

Friends, we are not without sin. We aren’t without blame. We are responsible and we probably shouldn’t be talking too loudly about how BP is totally to blame for this tragedy. None of us is reducing the amount that we drive or mow our lawns. Our demand for petroleum products is just as high as it’s ever been even with higher prices.

We are no different than Ahab or the Pharisee. We want all the oil we can get so we can have gas and diesel for our vehicles. We want it all and we don’t really care what’s happened in the Gulf. That’s BP’s problem not ours. They were the ones pushing their people to work harder and faster, not us. They’re the ones with deep pockets. It’s not our fault they used faulty materials. It’s not our problem.

Friends, we aren’t without blame. We are sinners. We worship other idols. We don’t accept responsibility for any of these problems. But we are responsible.

So what are we going to do? Hop in our cars and go down and join the cleanup effort? There are some who have done that and it’s some help. But is that really what’s needed?

What if, and this is a big what-if, we supported those who were working to clean up this mess? What if we let the news media know that we don’t agree with where they are placing all this blame? What if we let our governing leaders know, whether they’re Democrat or Republican, that we really want them to work together to solve this problem instead of pointing the finger at the other guy. They all are part of the problem too. What if we all worked together to make a positive difference? What if the head of BP knew that everybody didn’t place all the blame on him? Would that make a difference?

Maybe it is just one corporation’s or one political party’s fault, then shouldn’t we forgive them and work together to solve the problem and quit being so ready to have them sentenced to death or life imprison?

I think we’ve all contributed to the mess the world’s in. And we are all responsible for getting it straightened out, if it can be straightened out. But first we have to realize who’s in control. It’s not us. It’s God.

If we go to him first, begging forgiveness for the mess we’ve made of things, that’s would be a good start. Friends, it’s time we opened our eyes to the fact that we haven’t done such a good job taking care of our environment and maybe we should ask God’s help. After all he created it all. Wouldn’t he know how to make it right again?

Power corrupted Ahab. The Law or thinking that he was and could keep every one of God’s laws corrupted the Pharisee. They neither one believed they needed forgiveness or absolution. They never did any wrong.

Neither was justified in their thinking. Paul said, “…we are justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law…” We aren’t any different. We aren’t justified by what we think is right or wrong. We are only made right by the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.

It’s time we came to that realization and maybe get down on our knees and beg for God’s forgiving grace. The wonder of it all is God will forgive us. He has forgiven us. His grace is amazing.

Even with this big mess we’ve made of our world if we go to him he will forgive us.

Thanks be to God for his amazing grace. Amen.

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